Up here in my high Alpine valley the sound of helicopters is not unusual. Air ambulances here ferry skiers with broken legs and fallen climbers rather than the UK's stabbing victims, and the power company Kelag use them constantly for checking the web of power cables. Helicopters at night, however are something else, but last night at about 9pm came the throb and bass beat. The origin and direction of the Bundesheer's Bell Hueys was in no doubt - from the Gebirgsjäger base over the Villacher Alpe to the Italian border crossings. Hey ho, I thought, they're closing the borders. Last Summer they ran an extensive exercise to airlift troops to the Alpine passes in the event of another migrant surge, so the sound and path of the helos was quite familiar. In reality this time, it's a Chinese virus rather than Iraqi economic migrants that they're tasked with stopping.
In the event the borders haven't yet been closed. There is intense pressure from the EU - backed up with a generous dispensing of millions in cash - to keep the EU economy going at all costs. In Brussels, the security of their federation may outweigh the fate of 1% of the EU's 460m subject peoples in the minds of the apparatchiks.
The Mayor of Villach is concerned about the legal brothel at Hohenthurn. Up to 120 prostitutes, mostly from eastern Europe, work there and at weekends floods of Italians - 400 to 500 every weekend - cross the border to buy their favours, reports ORF. He tells the press he is powerless to close the brothel, and the Italians are unlikely to restrain themselves.
I suspect the authorities, including our own government, now accept that Covid-19 cannot be contained, as I wrote a week ago, on Monday 17th. It's all moving very quickly now. The actions by the Italian authorities are likely to be a mix of panic-reduction measures and blame avoidance. Realistically, they have no chance of halting the pandemic.